'Bath salts' fueled armed standoff in SF, police say 

A 22-year-old woman who held off police with a shotgun and hatchet on March 3 in Cow Hollow was high on so-called bath salts, police said.

At the Police Commission meeting Wednesday, Police Chief Greg Suhr offered more details about the more than two-hour ordeal.

At about 3 p.m. that day, police said, the woman was reportedly caught breaking into a home in the 2800 block of Lyon Street, which borders the Presidio. The officers who responded to a 911 call said they saw the woman, who was wearing pajama pants, standing at the window of the home and holding a shotgun she had found inside the home.

“She was under the influence of bath salts, which is a newish drug that’s hitting the streets right now,” Suhr told the Police Commission.

After the “distracted” woman refused to surrender, a standoff ensued for more than two hours that involved a SWAT team and crisis negotiators. At one point she was seen pointing the shotgun, which was later determined to be unloaded, toward her chest.

Negotiators engaged her in conversation and got her to finally come out onto the front porch. She dropped a shotgun and hatchet after being shot with a bean bag gun, Suhr said. She was reportedly taken into custody without injury, a result the Police Commission lauded.

“Your officers showed incredible restraint,” said commission President Thomas Mazzucco. “Probably if it had been in any other jurisdiction, that young lady would not be here today. ... Hopefully this young lady and her family will someday appreciate that.”

The type of drugs the woman was reportedly on aren’t the bath salts that are put in bath tubs. These are designer drugs that contain synthetic stimulants, according to medical experts. Their effects can include hallucinations, agitation, paranoia, increased blood pressure and suicidal thinking. The drug can be snorted, eaten or injected.

“I don’t know why anybody would want to ingest [bath salts],” the police chief said.

Their availability on the Internet and in head shops, convenience stores and gas stations helped drive popularity nationwide. In response to an uptick in the use of the drug, the Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act of 2012 was passed banning bath salts and other synthetic drugs. 

Police encounters from bath salts are relatively uncommon in San Francisco, police spokesman Sgt. Michael Andraychak said. “I don’t see a lot of reports or accounts.”

maldax@sfexaminer.com

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Thursday, Oct 30, 2014

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